Sen. Salazar Keeping Options Open

Posted August 21, 2008 at 9:09am

WINDSOR, Colo. — Sen. Ken Salazar (D-Colo.) on Wednesday declined to commit to running for re-election in 2010 or rule out serving in the next White House administration. He also cautioned that this year’s Colorado Senate race could be more competitive than many political insiders expect.

In a brief interview here after stumping for his former aide, Betsy Markey (D), who is challenging Rep. Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.), Salazar was clear that he loves his job and has no plans or particular desire to do anything else in the immediate future. But when asked, the former Colorado attorney general did not dismiss serving in Sen. Barack Obama’s Cabinet, should the Illinois Democrat win the presidency.

“There’s a lot of road between now and January,” Salazar said, referring to the Jan. 20 inauguration. “My plan right now is to continue doing my job as a U.S. Senator.”

Salazar is scheduled to address next week’s Democratic National Convention on Wednesday evening. He is the kind of politically moderate Democrat who has enjoyed success in the Mountain West in recent years — a region that Democrats are targeting this year.

In the race this fall to replace retiring Sen. Wayne Allard (R-Colo.), Salazar firmly predicted that Rep. Mark Udall (D) would defeat former Rep. Bob Schaffer (R).

But he dismissed the notion that the Democratic Party’s recent string of successes in the state and Udall’s steady lead in the polls since the race began foreshadowed an easy ride for the Democratic nominee. In his analysis, Salazar appeared to indicate that Udall would have a harder time winning his race than his cousin, Rep. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), who is running for Senate in New Mexico against Rep. Steve Pearce (R).

“I think Udall is in line to win this seat. But I think it’s a very competitive race,” Salazar said. “I think Colorado is not New Mexico and it’s not Arizona. Colorado is a very tough state for a Democrat, and I don’t think that the difficulty of this race should be at all underestimated by anyone. I think it’s going to be a tough race. I think Mark Udall is going to win. But I think it’s going to be very close.”

Salazar, currently serving his first term, said he’s been traveling throughout Colorado over the past few weeks holding meetings on health care, noting that he has been working on developing solutions to lower health care costs, addressing the energy crisis and “moving forward” in Iraq.

Salazar said that working on those issues as a Senator with Obama as president appeals to him.

“I’m involved in all those three issues, and it’s exciting for me as a U.S. Senator to be involved in those issues and to represent my state,” Salazar said. “So [the] long answer to your short question is: I love the job I have.”